Goodbye Las Vegas, Hello Macau

We have all enjoyed trips to Las Vegas, and for many of us on the East Coast, those quick trips to Atlantic City and Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun Casinos in Connecticut. As the pendulum of economic activity shifts from West to East, Asians (who have gambled for centuries without any taboo) are now trying their luck in casinos. Macau, just minutes away from Hong Kong, and just hours away from most major Asian cities in South and Southeast Asia, is the Las Vegas of the East. In fact, when it comes to profits, Macau already exceeds those in Vegas. I have been to Hong Kong and loved the city (and the authentic Chinese food – you will never eat at a so-called Chinese restaurant at home once you eat there) and next time I must include Macau on my itinerary. Watch the video to see a glimpse of what they are up to.

Business opportunity in serving the unbanked

Most of us cannot imagine life without a bank, or an online bank for people like me (nearest branch for my bank is 125 miles away). Now we have data that says that almost 10% of Americans do not have a bank account and that explains the existence of check-cashing businesses almost every where, but more commonly in areas with higher rates of poverty.

While the check-cashing businesses seem almost like crooks to many of us who do not use them, they provide a service that their customers value and are willing to pay for it with rather high fees. The consumer banks, on the other hand, have done a rather poor job of keeping these customers. In fact, my bank hardly treats me special and doesn’t care if I leave it. And every time I get a letter from them, it is not to thank me for my business, but typically comes with a revised contract that includes higher fees and other restrictions on me. Not the best way to create customer delight.

Are they missing out an attractive business opportunity? Probably not because their cost structure is so high that these customers who will hardly keep a balance in their accounts are simply not worth it. But I do see a business opportunity in not fleecing these customer and providing them with ethical banking services.